By Anna Cunningham and Grace Pecci
As winter approaches, you might be thinking to yourself that you wouldn’t mind getting your skin just a shade darker than your snowy complexion usually comes to be in December. One trip to the tanning salon can easily turn into going two or three times a month. As naive as teens can be, this can become a serious health issue in future years.
A new club at Holliston High School (HHS) was created to help spread awareness of tanning risks. The club is called Society for the Protection of Youthful Skin (also known as SPYS) and it was created by Mrs. Jaime Murphy’s American Novels class last year.
During DSB one day the topic of tanning for prom came up because “a group of students thought it was unnecessary for people to tan considering the effects it could/can have on the skin. These students thought it would be interesting to start a club that informed high schoolers about the dangers of tanning and found ways to promote skin protection,” said Mrs. Murphy.
Ms. Murphy said that students asked her because they “knew about my passion for the subject.”
The club is still in its tentative hour, however, it has many plans to bring awareness to the effects of tanning.
The ongoing mission to make teens acknowledge how dangerous tanning can actually be for their health, is slowly starting to come together in bits. Some people think it is unnecessary for others to tan, because of the effects it has on the skin.
Mrs. Murphy shared her past experiences, “When I was younger… I would go outside and try to tan with my friends or my sister (although I always burned).” She explained that she “wouldn’t use sun block, and once in a while would use baby oil, and then go outside for hours. I also tried the booth a couple times to try and look better for prom.”
In the end she acknowledged that “These were not good decisions for me personally, and as I get older, I’m paying the price for damaging my skin.” And it is, extremely dangerous.
Not only does tanning increase risk of cancer, but it can also cause early wrinkles and age spots. According to skincancer.org, “up to 90 percent of the visible changes commonly attributed to aging are caused by the sun.”
Despite their knowledge of the risks, many teenagers step into tanning salons eagerly anticipating darker skin, by either using the tanning beds or spray tanning. Junior Lauren Curtiss claimed that tanning booths are a lot different than tanning on the beach. When she goes, she uses Level 1, usually not for the full 10 minutes, and it provides less light exposure. She originally wanted to be tan for prom, but after awhile she wanted to go tanning again. She explained that a lot of celebrities and even students at HHS are tan.
“I don’t want to be that one white kid in Holliston,” Curtiss said.
Most teens hold this opinion about wanting to have tan skin. Most have tanned out in the sun in hopes of getting a shade darker.
But students are not considering the real dangers. According to skincancer.org, “indoor ultraviolet (UV) tanners are 74 percent more likely to develop melanoma than those who have never tanned indoors.”
“I don’t blame girls (and boys, if they tan, too) for trying to look and feel good, but they need to understand the harm tanning can have on their skin,” said Mrs. Murphy.
If people want to go out tanning, they have every right to. But teens especially need to know the dangers it can have on the skin, and how bad it can actually be. Mrs. Murphy and SPYS members strive to share the dangers of tanning with the Holliston High School community. It’s just one small step in a, hopefully, big movement.